Lemony Turkey Bolognese
Photo: Thinkstock
This is a lighter, leaner, brighter and much faster alternative to the classic long-simmered beef Bolognese. We prefer to use dark turkey meat; it's moister and more flavorful than white meat. If you can't find it, a combination of white and dark is the next best choice. For an extra citrus note, add a splash of lemon juice when you toss the pasta with the sauce.

Serves 4 to 6


  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces pancetta or bacon (about 4 slices), finely diced
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Small pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey, dark meat or a combination of dark and white
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt
  • 1 pound rigatoni or penne
  • Olive oil for finishing the dish
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese, plus extra for serving


Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, in a large, high-sided sauté pan, heat the butter over medium heat, swirling it once it's melted, until it starts to brown. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to crisp around the edges, about 4 minutes. (If using bacon, there will be more rendered fat; pour off all but 1 tablespoon or so.) Add the onions, garlic, oregano and pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes.

Raise the heat to high and add the turkey. Cook, stirring often and breaking up the meat, until the meat is browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir for about 1 minute. Add the wine and briskly simmer, scraping up any caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat, stir in the yogurt and lemon zest and gently simmer to meld the flavors, about 5 minutes. Check the seasonings (it should taste a little salty) and set aside.

Meanwhile, season the boiling water generously with salt; it should taste like seawater. When it returns to a boil, add the pasta, quickly stir to separate the noodles, then cover the pot. When the water returns to a boil again, uncover and boil the pasta until al dente, stirring occasionally.

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water, then pour the pasta on top of the Bolognese sauce. Drizzle with oil, add the cheese and toss to combine over medium heat. If the pasta looks dry, add some of the cooking water. Check the seasonings and serve with more cheese.

From Keepers: Two Home Cooks Share Their Tried-and-True Weeknight Recipes and the Secrets to Happiness in the Kitchen (Rodale) by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion.

More Turkey Recipes


Next Story